Friday, May 29th, 2015
South Korea's Ssangyong Motors isn't shy about admitting it has been eyeing an entry into the lucrative North American market for several years. An early feasibility study is currently under way, and a spokesperson recently confirmed the company could develop a Jeep Wrangler-fighting SUV to spearhead its foray into the United States.
The yet-unnamed off-roader will ride on the same unibody platform as the Tivoli that was introduced last March at the Geneva Motor Show but the two will not look anything alike. Ssangyong is expected to put a big emphasis on design and give the SUV a rugged look with a few retro-inspired styling cues such as round headlights.
In Europe and in Korea, buyers will get to choose between a gasoline-burning 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 126 horsepower and 116 lb-ft. of torque and a 1.6-liter turbodiesel mill that makes 112 ponies and 221 lb-ft. of twist. The diesel unit will not be sold on our shores, and it goes without saying that the U.S.-spec model will benefit from a much larger gasoline-powered engine.
The SUV will live up to the Herculean task of taking on Jeep's most iconic and capable model thanks to a purpose-designed four-wheel drive system and high departure and approach angles.
Only time will tell if Ssangyong's plans materialize, though insiders say the SUV stands a good chance of getting the green light for production because it would be a global model. Additionally, Ssangyong launched a Wrangler-esque SUV called Korando (pictured) in mid-1990s and it was relatively popular, especially considering it was sold well before SUVs and crossovers became hot sellers in Europe.
If all goes as planned, the SUV will be one of the first Ssangyong-badged cars sold on our shores when the company sets up shop here in 2017 or 2018.